Prestigious award caps off stellar year for Frillnecks
Rugby union: Out of "a thousand-odd people”, Ben Gardiner has been named the recipient of Downs Rugby's most prestigious award.
According to Gardiner, the Ken Long Award recognises years of sticking behind your club and doing the right thing by the code.
Someone who helps out other clubs and does their best to make sure their own club plays with pride.
"I was nominated by the club, it's the big one that everyone wants,” he said.
"It's for volunteer of the year out of all the Downs clubs.
"Everyone involved in Downs is eligible for the award, so that's about 1000-odd people. It's the most prestigious award in the league.”
On Saturday night as the men, women, supporters and committee behind this year's stellar Frillnecks season celebrated the year that was, Gardiner reflected on how lucky he was to be a part of such a special club.
In addition, the Frillnecks president was named Club Person of the Year, the sixth time has has received the accolade.
"It is a team effort but it recognises someone who goes above and beyond and I'd say I'm very committed to my club,” he said.
"I've been with the Frillnecks since I got here about 20 years ago - this year has just been something else.”
The year 2019 has been dubbed "the Year of the Frillies” by players and supporters alike, with the men's team winning the premiership for the first time in 29 years - something of which Players' Player Murray Webster was particularly proud.
"St George has always been my home and I came back for a year after finishing school because I missed my family and playing footy and there were a few boys in the same position,” he said.
"We all came back and started the year off with a bang and we just said 'yep let's do it'.
"And we won for the first time in 29 years, so up the Frillies, I say.”
Also receiving Spirit of Rugby and Best Forward, Webster said receiving the awards was a surprise but one he was extremely happy about.
"If it wasn't for the rest of the boys around me I wouldn't be receiving those awards,” he said.
"We had a really good team this year and we just worked together so well.
"It was my first time playing for the season and it was just an incredible season. I loved it.”
Gardiner said the year had been an incredible culmination of efforts, with the inaugural women's team making the grand finals and the donation of a new bus by Bus Queensland for what was set to be another great season in 2020.
"For our ladies' team to reach the grand final in their first season is a testament to their determination and courage and to the men's team for continued support and mateship that enabled us to break a 29-year drought,” he said.
The Frillnecks' annual general meeting will be held on October 26 at the Aussie Hotel.